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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 40, 1998

Philosophy of Values

Heather Battal
Pages 18-26

What is Virtue Epistemology?

This paper functions as a brief introduction to virtue epistemology, a topic that has enjoyed a recent gain in popularity among analytic philosophers. Here I maintain that the defining feature of virtue epistemology is its focus on the intellectual virtues and vices rather than the evaluation of belief. What constitutes such a focus? And, what are the intellectual virtues? In the first section, I enumerate five different ways in which virtue epistemologists might focus on the virtues. In the second, I discuss four topics pertaining to the nature of the intellectual virtues themselves: (1) are the virtues natural or acquired?; (2) are they skills?; (3) are they instrumentally, constitutively, or intrinsically valuable?; and (4) what relation do they bear to truth? Throughout the paper, I identify which virtue epistemologists are partial to which views, and in this manner, catalog much of the recent debate. In conclusion, I suggest some topics for future study.

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